James Dixon: In a curious twist, Bret Hart opens up the tape by ripping up some cigarettes and telling us not to smoke in a shouty angry voice! Ok then.
WWF Women’s Championship
Sensational Sherri (c) vs. Rockin Robin
We start with this from Paris, France in October 1988. Rockin Robin was Jake Robert’s half sister, for those who are unaware of who she is. Shame she had nowhere near the ring skills of her bro. Gorilla Monsoon talks about how Sherri has not defended the title in 29 days, and she had no choice but to put it on the line at this show. I love things like that. Gorilla then says that Sherri doesn’t look ready for the defence, and the early dominance by Robin backs that up. She has been all over Sherri is the early going and has looked pretty decent in this. Her timing actually is really good, and her movements and instincts seem natural. She is a better wrestler than Sherri for sure. As she did in previous title defences, Sherri is giving her opponent an awful lot. This started out fairly quickly but they have been working a headlock for a long time now. Monsoon and Heenan amuse each other by bickering and place a bet on the outcome of the match. I don’t blame them at all, because this has gone from fun and fast to slow and somewhat dull. Sherri gets her first move of the match after about 7 or 8 minutes, putting on a hammerlock and then a full nelson. Robin switches it into one of her own, and they work spots in and out of the hold. It is almost like a wrestling training school drill, working moves and counters out of a single hold. There is nothing wrong with it from a technical point of view, but it is not that interesting to watch. Robin bounces Sherri into all the buckles, and a flying clothesline gets a near fall. Sherri retaliated by throwing Robin out of the ring and prevents her getting back in a few times with knees to the face. Back inside and Sherri chokes her out, but gets caught with a sunset out of the corner. Sherri comes back with a slam, but Robin catches her up top with a press slam. Robin unloads with a pair of loud chops, and Sherri really has been a bump dummy for most of this match, just taking a kicking. It has been quite back-and-forth in the sense that there have been a few separate periods of control, but Robin has thoroughly dominated hers, while Sherri has relied on cheap shots. That is ok though, she is a heel, she should be less interesting from a moveset point of view. Neckbreaker from Sherri gets two, but Robin fights back and hits a bulldog from the top for the win and the title, to the delight of the crowd. The structure was pretty random and all over the place, but this was a fun little match. Robin really controlled this and carried the thing, you could tell she was leading this. A decent match, given a very generous 13-minutes to get over.
Final Rating: **
Jacques Rougeau vs. Brutus Beefcake
We move straight on to Huntsville, Alabama in January 1989. This is a fairly rare singles match from Jacques at the time, who was part of the Fabulous Rougeau Brothers tag team with brother Raymond. He would of course have a semblance of single success later in his career as The Mountie, winning the IC title off Bret Hart, for like a day. He also became one of the most boring workers in the company once he donned the red and black, so I am interested to see how he works as a singles guy here, and whether he was only boring as The Mountie, or if he has always been dull and Raymond just covered it well. Early on Jacques flips over Beefcake and hits a dropkick, which is more athleticism than he ever showed when he became The Mountie. Beefcake comes back from that with a high knee, which sends Jacques to the outside to confer with Jimmy Hart. Sean Mooney insinuated that they are fucking each other: “Maybe the Rougeaus and Jimmy Hart are closer than we think!” he says after they share a hug. Jacques takes over back inside with a double axe handle and then puts on a few submissions, starting with the Camel Clutch and moving to the Boston Crab. Jacques throws Brutus to the outside and Hart wallops him in the stomach with his megaphone. Alfred Hayes annoys me by questioning Rougeau’s tactic of working the back when Brutus is not injured. Well, maybe he is TRYING to injure it. Is that not the point? Hayes is a total goon. Abdominal stretch from Jacques, but he soon misses a press off the middle rope, and Beefcake unloads with punches and a back body drop. A big delayed atomic drop is sold excellently by Jacques, and Beefcake rams him into the buckles. He goes for a splash, but Jacques gets his knees up. Jimmy Hart gets on the apron and Jacques ends up barreling into him, allowing Beefcake to put on the sleeper. Sensing his brother is in danger, Raymond runs down and jumps Beefcake, who chases them off with his oversized sheers. Horrible finish as usual, and a pretty dull match as well. Jacques was just as boring here as he became in later years, relying overly on an abundance of interest-sapping rest holds.
Final Rating: *
The Brain Busters vs. The Young Stallions
This takes place in November 1988 from the Maple Leaf Gardens. The Brain Busters were fairly new to the WWF, and in my opinions are the best tag team of all time. They can make even the worst piece of garbage look like a talented worker, but they have their hands full here, because the Stallions are hideous. Worst babyface team ever? Possibly. Man, I fucking hate Paul Roma. Anderson and Powers start things off, and it quickly turns into a pier sixer with everyone in there. The Stallions clear the ring, and then Powers gets the better of Blanchard in a smooth sequence. Roma comes in, and we have three Horsemen in there… Though, no-one in the right mind counts Roma as a genuine member of the Horsemen. That whole thing was a joke. As expected, Anderson completely schools him on the mat, briefly, but then Roma hits a pair of dropkicks and slams on both Busters, sending them to the outside. The Stallions give a prime example of why they are bad babyfaces, doing the wishbone on Blanchard. To me that is a heel move. They work over Blanchard’s leg, but Anderson interjects himself and prevents a head scissors, then takes out Roma with his trademark spinebuster. Roma is really dumb, and hip tosses Tully right into his own corner. The guy just had no clue where he was in the ring or what he was doing, he just came across as being so damn stupid. The Busters cheat to get the better of Roma, and utilise quick tags to keep things flowing. Anderson prevents a tag by saving Tully after he misses an elbow drop, and Powers arguing with the referee allows the Busters to stay in control. Powers is just as dumb as Roma. They were perfect for each other in that sense. Blanchard returns the favour to Anderson, preventing Roma making the tag. Blanchard goes for a suplex, but Roma counters it and hits one of his own. Both men crawl for the tag, and Roma makes it, and Powers comes in and unloads with dropkicks and slams. It breaks down and the Busters are sent into each other, and when the dust settles, Anderson is left with Powers. Tully sneaks in and hits a sunset flip off the top, and Anderson clotheslines Powers into it, and that is enough for the win. It is just a completely superior performance as ever from the Brain Busters, who totally outclassed the Stallions. They were the perfect heel tag team, and were so much fun to watch. Like I said, they could carry anyone, and they managed it again here with those two lumps of wood. Good match.
Final Rating: ***
The Brother Love Show
This also features on the Even More Saturday Night’s Main Event tape, which is released only two tapes after this! Way to go Coliseum. There is nothing worse than watching Brother Love; he rambles on and on! He introduces Slick as his guest and we cut backstage to Hulk Hogan, who is apoplectic with rage, because he was supposed to be the guest. Geez man, let someone else have the spotlight. He makes sexual grunting noises and says he will show Brother Love what love is all about. Hmm, maybe Linda Hogan’s claims were true… Hogan does get his way and takes all of Slick’s spotlight on the show. Slick says Hogan looks like a criminal and Love tells Hogan not to lose control. Love wants to know how it felt to be beaten within an inch of his life by Bossman, but he doesn’t let Hogan respond or speak at all. This is great! Hogan can’t take it anymore and grabs the mic, telling Love: “The kind of love you give is equal to the kind you receive, and so far, the love you been giving isn’t the kind you wanna receive big boy”. Right, that’s it, there is definitely something in the closet here. Hogan now asks Slick if he wants to be tied up and beaten with a stick! He then turns the tables and doesn’t let Love speak. He says if he was a judge, he would pass the execution on Brother Love. Unsurprisingly, the crowd doesn’t know how to respond to what is essentially Hogan saying he wants Brother Love to be killed. He then asks Slick if he thinks he is the only one with a pair of handcuffs… Hogan can’t take the verbal abuse in return and throws Slick out of the ring. Ventura is rightly pissed. Love tries to attack Hogan, but he is never selling for him. Hogan slams Love and rips off his shirt with rage. Out come the handcuffs, and things are about to get sexy. He cuffs Love to the ropes, with Jesse rightly pointing out that he is a bully. He clotheslines Love over the top while he is still cuffed to the rope. Worst. Face. Ever.
Next we get highlights of the excellent feud between Rick Rude and Jake Roberts, which stemmed from Rude hitting on Robert’s wife Cheryl. Rude then started provoking Jake by wearing tights with Cheryl’s face emblazoned on them, causing Jake to strip them off him, exposing him to the crowd. The rest of the world is saved by the WWF censorship sign of doom. The feud was easy to related to for any married man, and indeed was an easy story to tell generally. The real reason Cheryl was brought in though, was at the request of Jake. As he admits on his Pick Your Poison DVD, he was struggling with drug and alcohol addiction, and having his wife on the road with him would stop him from indulging. It is a shame for Jake and for the business that it didn’t last.
Jake Roberts vs. Rick Rude
We are in Baltimore, Maryland in October 1988, and Cheryl Roberts accompanies Jake to the ring. It is one of the few times in his career that Jake ever had a manager or valet. The guy was so good that he just didn’t need one. Rude is wearing the tights again, swiveling his hips in Cheryl’s direction. What a complete bastard Rude’s character was. Intense start as expected, and Jake tries to remove the tights early on. Jake takes over with a wristlock and Rude climbs out of the ring to try and break it, but Jake yanks him right back in. A DDT attempt from Jake causes Rude to bail to the outside. Back inside and Jake misses a short arm clothesline, and Rude retaliates by hitting one of his own. There has been a nice pace to this, but that is to be expected from these two; both are superb workers. Mind, other matches they have had on some of the tapes in this book have been pretty dire. I will say that Jake’s white tights are off-putting. Not because they are white, but because they have a blue patch on the back which makes Jake look like he is wearing a thong on top of them. It may be a snake’s face. Anyway, Jake comes back and Cheryl slaps Rude when the opportunity presents itself. We get clipped and they brawl on the outside, with Rude throwing Jake into the post and then yanking him into it twice more. Jake breaks the count, as Rude swivels the hips again. This incenses Jake, and he fires back again with punches, hitting a back body drop. A DDT attempt is reversed into a back body drop from Rude, and a knee drop from the top gets two. This is such a see-saw battle, which usually makes for the best matches. This really should have been on PPV. It would have improved the awful SummerSlam ‘88 significantly. Jake manages to escape the Rude Awakening and hit the DDT, but instead of going for the pin, he begins to remove Rude’s tights, and Heenan jumps in to cause the DQ. Andre the Giant makes his way to the ring, and attacks Jake. While he and Heenan are checking on Rude, Jake recovers enough to bring Damien into the ring, scaring Andre off. This is the start of a good angle, as Jake bounces from one feud to another. Andre’s facials selling his fear of snakes are absolutely brilliant. His screams for “Bobby! Bobby!” are superb and the fact that Andre FAINTS because of the snake, really puts Jake over. Man, Jake should have been at the top of the card when he was on like he was in this entire match and segment. Fairly short, but a really fun match with a great story going into it.
Final Rating: ***
In typical Coliseum fashion, they bounce from something good to something appalling, as the Bushwhackers try to work out how to use a vending machine. The dumb inbreds can’t work out how to open a can. HAHAHAHA. Stitch me up, this is just too funny. The dirty bastards are eating sardines out of the tin now! This endless stream of atrocious and indecipherable Bushwhackers segments is just horrid.
Steel Cage Match
Macho Man Randy Savage vs. Ted DiBiase
This match also features on Greatest Steel Cage Matches Ever and Macho Madness. It is a rematch from the WWF title tournament final at WrestleMania IV, and a match they had in the same venue the previous month, from June 1988 at MSG. Savage was still hugely motivated here because he had the title, so we might be in for a treat. DiBiase starts quickly on Savage and tries to escape, but Savage pulls him back in and rams his head into the buckles before dropping a knee. He goes for a back body drop, but DiBiase nails him with a punch to the throat, and then takes control again with a slam and a fist drop. An attempt to leave is blocked when Savage pulls him back in by the tights and hair, but DiBiase remains the aggressor. Another DiBiase escape is blocked, and Savage ties him up in a tree of woe in the cage, but Virgil interferes to stop Savage getting out. Savage throws DiBiase into the cage and both men are down. Once again, Virgil stops Savage getting out. You know how many times Elizabeth has stopped DiBiase leaving or has in fact done anything other than just look worried? None. I recall her being worthwhile in one major match ever, and that was when she got her arse out at SummerSlam ‘88. A double clothesline in the centre of the ring keeps both guys down, but Savage manages to crawl for the door. DiBiase gets there just in time and carries on pounding away at Savage. Randy has took a real kicking here, he always used to really sell for his opponents, sometimes maybe even to the detriment of his own character. Savage always seemed beatable, which was good while he was a babyface champion in matches like this, but harmed him as a heel. A double clothesline takes both down again, and then Savage blocks a DiBiase suplex into one of his own. An atomic drop from Savage sends DiBiase head first into the cage. Savage goes to escape via the door, but Virgil slams the door on his head to prevent it. DiBiase crawls over him and heads for the door, but Savage desperately holds onto his tights to stop it. What is it with cage matches and wrestlers getting their asses out? I thought it was just Rick Rude who liked to expose himself, but now DiBiase is getting in on the act. Is it an unwritten rule of cage matches to moon the crowd for as much of it as possible? Savage goes to escape but Virgil gets involved again. A tussle ensues on the top of the cage between Virgil, DiBiase and Savage, which ends when Savage rams them headfirst into each other, and climbs over to win the match. I have missed out the best part! A dumbass little mark kid climbed up the cage as they were jockeying for position up top, and desperately tried to pull Virgil off, having seen enough of his interference. Poor little blighter, it’s still real to him dammit!
Final Rating: ***¼
Summary: Like the rest of the Best Of tapes that the WWF brought out, this is all over the place. But it does move at a brisk pace and there are a couple of really fun matches, and nothing that stands out as bad. Rougeau-Beefcake is as you might expect, but it doesn’t offend. Outside of that, only the Bushwhackers nonsense drags this down, and even then it is short enough that it can be forgotten about quickly. It doesn’t set the world on fire, but this is an entertaining enough tape that comes mildly recommended.